Animalia: 19th and 20th Century European Prints and Drawings

December 6, 2008—June 7, 2009
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Location: Nelson-Atkins Building, Gallery P27

There are around 800,000 identified species and an estimated ten million yet-to-be-identified species in the animal kingdom. From this marvelous diversity, only a few animal species are chosen with any regularity as suitable subjects for art. The animals depicted in these prints and drawings are domesticated, wild and mythological. They are our familiars, the creatures that inhabit our psyches, living spaces and stories, and that remind us of our own membership in the kingdom Animalia.

Artists in the 19th century represented animals in both their tamed and untamed states such as Sir Edwin Landseer's whimsical painting of a prize farm pig and Eugène Delacroix's depiction of a lioness devouring a hare.

Twentieth-century artists seek not to faithfully represent animals, but to reveal their interior states. Franz Marc's sleeping blue horse wraps in upon itself, to create a restful composition of rhyming curves, while Salvador Dalí's heroic steed rears up as its rider, St. George, slays a coiling dragon.


Image: Gustave Doré, French, 1832-1883. Study of Birds, 19th century. Watercolor on paper. Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 32-193/6.

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